RAPID: Assessment of Risks and Vulnerability in Coupled Human-Physical Networks of Houston’s Flood Protection, Emergency Response and Transportation Infrastructure in Harvey
Cities have a variety of infrastructure systems in place to deal with emergencies and extreme events like hurricanes. The effectiveness and efficiency with which these systems perform is, in part, a function of the severity and characteristics of the specific event relative to the capacities of the individual systems, but also the extent to which these infrastructure systems effectively coordinate. In this Rapid Response Research Grant (RAPID), the Principal Investigators will collect time-sensitive data on the performance of Houston''s flood protection, emergency management, and transportation infrastructure systems and processes in Hurricane Harvey. These data will be used to help identify what inter-organizational planning, communication, and coordination risks exist, what policies and strategies yield network resilience, and which capital investment decisions are optimal. These findings will suggest ways to improve decision-making processes, coordination, and network planning among infrastructure designers and operators, city planners, and emergency managers based on better understanding of the underlying interdependencies among infrastructure systems and processes. Hence, the expected results will have significant societal benefits that will help improve public safety and reduce economic losses from extreme weather events. The specific tasks to be undertaken are to: (1) map, model, and analyze decision-making processes and human system networks in interdependent infrastructure systems to uncover inter-organizational risks; (2) specify and characterize infrastructure disruptions and cascading failures and their relationships with inter-organizational risks and decision-making processes; and (3) examine households? physical and social vulnerabilities influenced by inter-organizational risks and infrastructure disruptions and cascading failures. These tasks will be accomplished through in-depth interviews and participatory workshops with stakeholders and decision-makers (e.g., Flood Control District, Army Corps, City Managers, Planners, Infrastructure Engineers, and Utility Companies), collection of data to assess interdependencies and the subsequent impacts caused by failures in critical infrastructure, and a household survey to determine the impacts of infrastructure failures on households in two to three areas in Houston.